July 27 and 28th – Jewish Art, Hookah, Lunch, Ben Yehuda Shopping.

I could talk about this 2000 person Maccabi Games Tel Aviv club party that I went to on the 27th…but that was boring for me. So I’m gonna tell you about the stuff that I thought was cool.
Earlier that morning, Nir took us all up to an arab village where we went into a little arab cafe. Nir, the astute observer, pointed out to all of us that everyone in the cafe/hookah bar was an Israeli. We ordered Baklava and received several dozens of different types of Baklava and sweets. And this delicious lemonade mint drink. We also ordered a strawberry flavored hookah for all of us to share. The Baklava was incredible, and I ate a rudely large portion of it lol. When I used the hookah I did feel a bit lightheaded and I also felt nauseous, but that may be because of all the sweets I consumed. Honestly, it was just fun that it was a communal activity where we could talk around something. Ben told us some great stories about how he woke up one morning on Ne-Yo’s couch after partying with J.Cole and how he met Dr. Dre at his house in California. I love Ben’s stories. My favorite is probably his John Mayer story, but that’s definitely not appropriate for this blog.
After that we headed to his parent’s house. When I heard that his Dad was an artist, I was ready to applaud whatever attempts at art I saw. Instead, I was blown away. His father’s name is Avner Moriah, you can check out this website here. The artwork showed insight into the biblical text, emotional insight and a mind that was both brilliant and passionate about Judaism.
If you didn’t know already, I love art. Anyway. Let me show you some of his work.
Here you see the Tower of Babel on the left and Noah’s ark on the left.
If you aren’t familiar with the story I’ll give a quick summary. Before the flood, people only cared about themselves and were violent and didn’t care about rules. God brought about a flood and wiped out what he’d created like an Etch A Sketch board, but Noah saved 2 of each animal on an arc. Now everyone was united as a community, but so much so that they become full of such great pride that they wished to build a Tower (Tower of Babel) to make them reach God/be equal to God. God of course punished them and made it so they could no longer all understand each other, hence languages. Moral of the story: Humans are disposable (:
I love the fact that the people who are building the Tower of Babel are drawn fragmented like the bricks they are building up. I find that fascinating because at the time of their building the Tower, there was only one language and they all understood each other. So why would they be drawn fragmented? I don’t know the right answer.
1. These people had stopped seeking individual desires (polar opposite of code of ethics pre-Flood) and thus who they were was no longer connected to their own identity.
2. They were trying to reach God both physically and metaphysically, therefore there may be a separation between them and Adonai (their Judaism).
3. The bricks are simply an extension of themselves, thus implying that the height of the building is irrelevant but rather it is their act of building it.
Finally, I love how Noah’s ark is so delicately perched on what looks like a massive blue glacier, but is more likely an abstract drawing of a wave. Why would Noah’s ark, this strong and MASSIVE structure that holds 2 of every single living animal be depicted as being fragile?
The better question is what could be more delicate than a structure that holds the only remnants of the Earth? Nothing. If it were destroyed, the Earth and all of life on Earth would have been lost with it. But I’ve never thought of the story of Noah that way until I saw this art work. It never crossed my mind that if the ark had broken while at sea, the biological history of the world would have been erased and forgotten.
We also saw this gorgeous Megillat Esther scroll that he drew which if rolled out completely would have probably have been more than 50 feet long…ish.
One of my favorite pieces, and one of Nir’s, is this one which is from a series that Avner did about the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. In this one he depicts the archbishop confessing his sins to the devil, but the devil is covering his ears because he doesn’t want to hear the sins. Chilling.
Oh and then another proud moment happened when Nir’s sister asked her brother something around the lines of (could you bring in the food from outside), ?אתה יכול להביא את האוכל מבחוץ
And I yelled out, “I got it” and grabbed the Bamba and juice. When I came in she said, “I didn’t know you spoke Hebrew.” And I responded, “Hahahaa I didn’t even realize you were speaking Hebrew.”
I could make this next piece a separate post, but it’s 2:29 AM in Jerusalem and I don’t have the patience to open a new blog post so…I’m gonna talk about the day after the one I just described.
Well, this morning I woke up and hopped in a cab to Ben Yehuda to see my friend and lifelong Torah teacher, Rabbi Yosi Gordon. It’s always fun to see Yosi. He’s one of those people who have a spiritual energy inside of them that if used as an alternative fuel source, could power a country. My mom would use the term, “Chi Monster.” Anyway, we sit down at this lovely restaurant called “Rimon” where we are able to immediately skip the boring small talk and jump into discussing Israel, politics, Torah study and our personal lives. It was a blast. The food was absolutely incredible, especially for such an unassuming place. We talked for hours, and then he decided to show me where the best nightlife was around Ben Yehuda. We serendipitously ran into someone I went to Talmud Torah with. What are the odds (it’s the second time in the past week that I’ve run into a Talmud Torah student in Israel).
Then after we said our goodbyes, I started to walk through Ben Yehuda to look for gifts. I found a store for little girls where I found a bunch of hilarious bibs for my baby nieces. It always feels a little funny shopping for bibs…especially when you’re not a father. Then I began to look for gifts for my recently 4 year old niece, Maya. Who also happens to be my bff. I was looking at souvenir stores for Judaica and realized that is not a fun present for a 4 year old.
I then looked for books, but had trouble finding a bookstore with books in english. As I was walking past a bookstore near Ben Yehuda, my eyes ran across a few books on a table in front of a bookstore. One was titled, “Psychoanalysis and Orthodox Judaism.” I spent 10 minutes reading it outside. Didn’t find it compelling and so moved onto another book. This one was called, “Einstein and Judaism.” I’ve never truly understood Einstein’s Judaism even though I’ve found what he’s said on the topic to be thought-provoking. What I loved about the book is that in the introduction it clarified that the book is not solely about Einstein’s Religion, but that it intends to discuss how his Judaism affected his work and how his work (the theory of relativity) affected theological thought. The book seems to wish to investigate the connection between modern physics and theology. Awesome.
Now, I headed inside the store with a book in my hand and searched for other books. The entire store was full of amazing books. The one that caught my eye however was David Mamet’s, “The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred and the Jews.” The book uses the metaphor of the Wicked Son at the Passover Seder (my favorite part of Passover is arguing about the four children) to argue that Jews have excluded themselves from seeking truth in Judaism. I can’t say much more about without reading it, but the first few pages are great. What I love about it is that he’s unapologetic and opinionated. I love that because I can disagree or agree, but no matter what I know what his perspective is. The first sentence of the book is, “As you have taken the time to read and I to write this book, I believe we should be frank: The world hates the jews. The world has always and will continue to do so.” You might disagree with that, but there’s no ambiguity on what he feels and you can feel his passion. I’m psyched to read it.
I bought those two books. The cashier loved that I fought and got Silver in the Maccabiah and asked me to wait so his sons could meet me and shake my hands. It was so funny, because I just wanted to ask, “Why would they want to meet me?” I didn’t though and he was very sweet, telling me that next time I come back he’ll give me a Sefer Torah for a Maccabi USA Taekwondo pin.
I met up with my team in the old city and we shopped for a few hours. I got a new iPhone case because it was broken and bought an awesome present for Maya, which I can’t share on the blog because I want it to be a surprise. I will say that it combines Hebrew and one of her favorite Nick characters (:
After that we had a wonderful dinner at this beautiful restaurant. Ate like kings. Laughed a lot.
Here’s the restaurant (and Norm being goofy).IMG_0925
Then we took the light-trail back to our hotel, which I loved. It’s just a great reminder of being in Israel, to be completely surrounded by Jews. Oh, and I love that everywhere I turn there are cute Jewish babies with like 4 brothers and sisters. Heck yeah Israel. Be fruitful and multiply.
Oh and I’ve become obsessed with Louis C.K’s show, “Louie.” It’s brilliant, dark and thought-provoking. And hilarious of course, but not for those without a very developed sense of humor.
Whew. That’s a long post. I’m too tired to spellcheck. Hope it’s ok. Don’t judge. Well, you can judge a little…you are Jewish. Hopefully. Goyim welcome.
Goodnight 🙂